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Yasunari Kawabata, the Nobel prize winning Japanese novelist, had a life surrounded by tragedy. He was born in 1899 in Osaka, to a prosperous professional family, but both his parents died when he was a toddler, leaving him an orphan. Although his grandparents cared for him, his maternal grandmother died in 1906 and his sister died a few years later when he was 11. Next, in 1914, his grandfather died. Death and abandonment continued to haunt his adult years. When he was 20, he fell in love, but the woman he planned to marry left him. In 1970, his close friend and protégé, Yukio Mishima, committed suicide.
Personal tragedy was echoed by national tragedy, with the defeat of Japan in World War II deeply traumatic for a nation that considered itself possessed of a great and venerable culture, and a deep sense of national pride.
Many of these traumas may have contributed to Yasunari Kawabata's suicide. Also, suicide is more widely accepted in Japanese culture than in some other societies, with the ritualized practice of seppuku, a form of suicide by stomach cutting that was considered admirable in certain circumstances for samurais.
The actual cause of Yasunari Kawabata's death was gas. Since Yasunari Kawabata did not leave a note, we actually have no way to discover why he may have killed himself. Moreover, certain family members assert that his death may have been an accident, in which he did not adjust the gas taps properly while doing home maintenance.
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